A Guide to South Devon’s Outdoor Cinema and Theatre
Open air cinema and theatre continues to burst onto the summer scene in south devon. Whether you fancy a classic or that hot new release, discover the brilliance of al fresco entertainment near you.
If you think outdoor theatre and cinema are a recent and trend-led invention, think again. If we go way back to 1895, this is when the invention of cinematography was introduced by the Lumiére Brothers - from this came the name ‘cinema’ which we still use today. The Sun Picture Gardens in Australia has the oldest and longest running open air cinema in the world (opended 1916); still enjoyed by thousands of people and it even made it into the Guinness World Book of Records! Travelling further through time, we come to the world’s first drive-in cinema in New Jersey, United States in 1933; becoming most popular in the 1950’s.
Why visit an outdoor theatre and cinema event? The question really is, why not! With Netflix now being the most popular way of watching movies, it has made going out and watching a movie more of a rare treat. But what better way to spend an evening than sat under the stars, propped up in deck chair with a glass of fizz in hand, watching an all time classic on the big screen or actors on the stage, with family and friends. There’s no experience quite like it!
Torbay and South Devon is an ideal location for outdoor cinema and theatre. It’s naturally inspiring, calm, quiet and packed full of darkness for al fresco entertainment.
Here are our picks 👇
1. Open Air Cinema Festival at Torre Abbey, Torquay (15-27 August 2019)
Torre Abbey (in partnership with JCW Cinema Services) are hosting their third consecutive year of outdoor cinema. After welcoming over 2000 people in 2018, they’re certainly not holding back this year! Showing various popular films old and new - Mary Poppins Returns, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Moulin Rouge, Labyrinth, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, The Greatest Showman and another film to be announced - you’re spoilt for choice!
Bring chairs, blankets and anything else to get comfy and sit amongst the stunning ruins and gardens of Torre Abbey. Enjoy a drink and cinema snacks from the licensed bar on site for a late night treat. Starting on the 15 August and ending on 26 August, there are plenty of showings available - tickets range from £8 (club members and under 16’s) to £10 (adults) which are available on the website.
2. Illyria Outdoor Theatre at Cockington Court, Torquay (4 & 22 August, 1 September 2019)
If you’re more into theatre productions, then there is another perfect venue on your doorstep; Cockington Court are hosting Illyria Outdoor Theatre once again this summer! Showing some of Illyria’s popular shows; Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (4 August), The Tempest (22 August) and Frankenstein (1 September). Sit back, relax and embrace the surroundings of Cockington’s beautiful nature gardens whilst enjoying some outdoor entertainment - perfect family fun activity to do in the summer. Tickets range from £8-£14, booking fee applies - set times shown on website.
3. Cave Cinema at Kents Cavern, Torquay (24-31 August)
Now this may not be an outdoor cinema, but how would feel about a cave cinema? Kents Cavern in Torquay are introducing the South West's first and only pop-up underground cinema for 2019! This will be an experience to remember - imagine being immersed in the historic environment of the beautiful chambers that were formed over two million years ago, whilst watching a variety of exciting, thrilling entertainment. Featuring films such as; The Goonies, The Descent, The Greatest Showman, The Blair Witch Project, Indiana Jones, Mary Poppins Returns, Jurassic Park, The Conjuring and Alien - showing between 24 - 31 August. Tickets from £10, various times available on website - note that age restrictions apply.
4. Big Screen in the Park at Northernhay Gardens, Exeter (1-10 August)
Exeter Phoenix are presenting their Big Screen in the Park in the Northernhay Gardens this summer. It would be silly to miss out on this opportunity of watching some all time classics on a magnificent 10 metre screen with the backdrop of Exeter’s phenomenal Cathedral city. Showing films; Jurassic Park, Little Miss Sunshine, Bohemian Rhapsody, Pan’s Labyrinth and a Star is Born. Don’t miss out on this two weekend event (1-10 August), tickets are available online - £7 in advance or £8 on the gate.
5. Outdoor Theatre at Greenway House, Kingswear (26 July)
There are so many sites to choose from with outdoor theatre in Torbay; one of which being National Trust’s, Greenway House and Garden (“the loveliest place in the world”) - also known as the beloved home of much-loved author Agatha Christie. Enjoy and sit amongst others in the romantic setting and discover the iconic tale of Wuthering Heights by Heartbreak Productions, showing on 26 July. Tickets £10 (child 5-16), £14 (adults, available to book online.
6. Outdoor Theatre at Bradley Manor, Newton Abbot (15 August)
Immersion Theatres have joined Bradley Manor and bringing you a spectacular showing of the fantastic musical Alice in Wonderland this August. With only one showing, it is recommended you book your tickets in advance for a guaranteed spot - other productions have sold out so get booking! Tickets are available to book online and cost £10 for a child (4-16) and £12 for adults, group ticket bookings are also available. This outdoor theatre showing is a fun-filled exciting musical and perfect for the entire family to go and see. Bring along some low-backed chairs and feel free to take a picnic along too!
7. Open Air Theatre at Devonport Park, Plymouth (24 July, 7 & 25 August)
“Devonport Park in Exmouth Road is the only park in Devon and Cornwall to be nominated this year in the competition to find the country's best green spaces and how important they are to health and well being.” - quote from Plymouth Live
Devonport Park has been nominated as the best in the UK and is currently running for the title of ‘UK’s Best Park 2019’. Therefore we’re very lucky to be a part of this as they’re hosting their outdoor theatre this August! Heartbreak Productions are bringing to life an outdoor production of the best selling comical story Gasta Granny (25 August) by David Walliams, as well as Wuthering Heights (24 July) and Private Lives (7 August). Tickets are ready for purchase online now; standard concession/child ticket from £11.50 and adult ticket from £16.50 as well as family tickets.
If you haven’t yet, give outdoor cinema a try this summer! With plenty of venues to choose from and a variety of iconic films and theatre productions showing, this is an unmissable experience! To see some other exciting events happening this summer, head to our ‘What’s On’ section.